ENTERTAINMENT

 26  MAY Staff Report

At last year’s Cincinnati Black PRIDE, actor Darryl Stephens, who played on Noah on “Noah’s Arc”, spent some time in the Queen City, helping to celebrate our first Black PRIDE in many years. To many, “Noah’s Arc”  was life changing. The groundbreaking TV series followed the lives and loves of a group of African-American gay men. The show ran for two seasons on Logo between 2004-2006. It was followed by a movie in 2008.

 

This year, the festival will celebrate another year with a host of online programming June 25 through June 28. Cincinnati Black PRIDE might have had to cancel its in-person celebration amid coronavirus concerns, but the festival and its partner organizations are hosting a slate of online programming the last weekend in June.

Thursday, June 25, 8pm

3rd Annual Black Alphabet Film Festival 

KING ESTER (episodes 1+2) written and directed by Dui Jarrod

RAFIKI, directed by Wanuri Kahiu

WOLF, directed by Ya’Ke Smith (Cincinnati’s Taft Museum of Art’s 2019 Duncanson Artist-in-Residence)

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Friday, June 26, 7:30pm

Vizazi Torch Awards 

In celebration of the rich legacy and promising future of Black LGBTQ+ Family in Cincinnati we are hosting our 2nd Annual Vizazi Torch Awards. The event is the primary community celebration for Cincinnati Black Pride, with support from BLACK IN SPACE. This year's awards honor 12 Cincinnatians committed to advancing and improving the quality of life for Black Queer and Trans folks. We are accepting nominations through June 5, 2020, Nomination forms can be filled out here

Saturday, June 28, 8pm

The Front Porch

The night kicks of with a plethora of area queer DJ’s, spinning virtual beats using the Deep Vision Network. Hosted by Tim’m West with DJ Rah D, the night will feature local area DJs Nhojj, Ashley Phillips, Ken J. Martin, and J-Phunk. Viewers can contribute directly to each performer during their scheduled time through donations to their Venmo profiles and donation platforms highlighted during the broadcast.

 

Saturday, June 28, 10pm

Rock Hard Party & DJ Collaborative

Rock the night away with a host of virtual house parties with local DJs. Viewers can contribute directly to each performer during their scheduled time through donations to their Venmo profiles and donation platforms highlighted during the broadcast. Participating DJs and schedule coming soon

Sunday, June 29, Time To Be Determined

Interfaith Services

This plans to be an “integrated service” respectfully demonstrating the breadth, depth,

and sincerity of our faith, exposing the lie that anti-gay fundamentalists have a monopoly on faith and religion led by Rev. Derek Terry of St. Peters UCC, Pastors Lesley Jones and Noni Gordon of Truth & Destiny and Pastor Terry Hocker of Bound By Truth and Love Ministries.

 

For additional information, to place your nomination for our Vizazi Awards, or just to stay up to date on our evolving line-up for Cincinnati Black PRIDE, visit our site at cincinnatiblackpride.com

 
 
ENTERTAINMENT

 19  MAY K.A. Simpson

 

There has never been a better time to Netflix and chill. As many of the online streaming platforms have finally became woke enough and globbed on to the fact that us watchers want to see more characters like us on the screen, there has been a massive onslaught of programming chock full  of LGBTQ characters of color and storylines cladden with a black and brown community backdrop; delivering more watershed moments than a traditional rom-com.

 

It's getting to the point that it's hard to keep track...but who's complaining? This is a problem many of us could never have dreamed of having when we were kids. But with that in mind, we’ve rounded up our favorite shows available now.

ALL AMERICAN

If you haven’t caught up with April Blair’s brilliantly entertaining and hyper-sensualized “All American,” whatever are you waiting for? The hour drama is an American sports television series that originally premiered on the CW in 2018 but  is now bingeable on NETFLIX. The series is inspired by the life of professional American football player Spencer Paysinger with Daniel Ezra in the lead role. Even more impressive is how the story tracks the shifting Los Angeles neighborhood of Crenshaw, and it's dichotomy with its neighboring Beverly Hills, thoughtfully navigating the difficult choices communities face in gentrification’s unceasing churn.

HOLLYWOOD

Sometimes the best person in their craft actually gets the reward. But getting that person in the position to even be seen sometimes takes people the people in power to go out on a limb and take a chance to stand up what they believe in. Delivering one of the smartest, funniest, and most surprising queer show we’ve seen in many years. Set in post-World War II Hollywood, the series, executive produced by Ryan Murphy, shows how far aspiring actors and filmmakers will go to make their showbiz dreams come true.

SEX EDUCATION

If you crave TV that makes you think about the first time that you ever fell in love, and how confused and awkward you were make sure you check out Netflix’s “Sex Education.” Packed with an eclectic array of characters that reflect the real world, peppered with several queer-lensed wit, Laurie Nunn’s tender high school comedy is a beacon of light in dark times. The concept is simple yet brilliant: Raised by a therapist mom, a teenage boy begins doling out amateur sex advice small business at his highschoo. The show’s robust cast of characters reflect almost every one of us, but you will fall real deep and hard for Ncuti Gatwa’s Eric who steals the show. 

ELITE

Hey...Darío Madrona...please let us know how we can repay you for taking us into one of the most exclusive high schools in Spain, Las Encinas, where the elite send their children to study. In between these hallowed hallways, three working-class students are admitted after a suspicious earthquake destroyed their school. The clash between the haves and the have-nots creates a perfect storm that ends in a murder. One of the many romances offers much to enjoy, unfurling its layered chemistry with a tortuously slow burn that doesn’t sacrifice the naughty bits.

ENTERTAINMENT

 06  MAY Tim'm West

 

COVID-19 continues to disproportionately impact the Black community nationally. Aligned with DC Black Pride and other responsible stakeholders, the decision not to cancel Black Prides given the vast vulnerabilities in our community would simply be irresponsible, reckless, and imprudent. On the positive side, Cincy Black Pride just started in 2018. We celebrated themes like,  "We're Black, We're Back, Get Used to It" in 2018 and "We Are Royalty" just last year commemorating Stonewall and the Queens and Kings who played critical roles in the LGBTQ+ revolution in 1969. 

To declare that we are "Still Here" in 2020, especially in the current context of disease and dying, political unrest and a Supreme Court decision that could federally sanction discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity... we can still show up! 

The virtual world is our new normal. We can't be sure when things might be "back to normal" and our new normal of a virtual world that privileges our safety as Black LGBTQ folx may just mean that we are pioneers in finding new ways to network and come together, celebrate achievement, leadership, and arts, listen to our DJs and dance...until such a time come where it's safe to be together again. A virtual pride is the only option if we truly love Black people enough to want to ensure they are safe and well.

 

We never wanted to completely cancel our city’s Black Pride. Why? Because that would be giving up on our people. We've done so much work to build one of the more vibrant and active Black queer and trans communities in the midwest. Why let COVID-19 stop that momentum. In Cincinnati, we have Black queer innovators, technical and marketing experts, artists, philanthropists, organizers and activists, authors and teachers, politicians and preachers? Why should we let this pandemic steal our fire at a time when we need community more than ever. Negro please!

Currently, Cincinnati Black Pride is planned to go on, virtually, June 25 - 28, 2020. For more information, and how to stay connected visit Cincinnati Black Pride, or follow then on facebook, or instagram.  

Cincinnati Black Pride Family

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ENTERTAINMENT

 15  APRIL Staff Report

 

When it comes to drag, a quick Internet search will bring up the definition ‘to pull (someone or something) along forcefully, roughly, or with difficulty.’ While this word has commonly been used in American lexicon in this way, some of us use this word to precede the word ‘queen’ creating an entirely new word meaning; ‘a man who dresses up in women's clothes, typically for the purposes of entertainment.’

 

And, at its foundation, drag queens are often explored through queer sexuality and sensibility, but is also oftentimes looked at primarily through a lens of whiteness. Yet drag is an aesthetic that relates to blackness and spans many performing disciplines.

 

Needless to say, drag in Cincinnati has become something more than just a good time in high heels.

There have been a few queens who have been at the center of it all and have helped build the scene to what it has become. But the current state of quarantine has hindered our interaction with our fave performers and effected their livelihood.

 

The novel coronavirus crisis has forced Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky area bars to close, shuttering with them the stages drag performers call home. But these artists are uniting to keep their community alive in innovative new ways. Using digital platforms from Instagram to Twitch, they are organizing online group shows designed specifically to reach homebound audiences in difficult times.

@Quasi-Powell (Venmo)  therealquasi@aol.com (PayPal) 

 

In a community where even the luckiest often live paycheck to paycheck, this sudden shutdown is having devastating effects. Quasi, a Cincinnati drag queen, has gone from performing at The Cabaret, —one of the area’s most popular hangs to watch drag—to performing no shows at all.

 

“No,” Quasi told Blackout Cincinnati when we chatted virtually through Facebook messenger. “Is Janet Jackson doing a show virtually? Not that I’m Janet but I’d rather reserve my talent for the live stage. Lol. Big props to those that are doing it though.”


Inherent in its DNA, drag is a zero-margins business. It requires constant reinvestment. For example, while most queens in Cincinnati could make $100 on a good night per show, the garments and hair they are expected to wear can easily cost more than $1,000 per look. And that’s not to mention the cost of sets, signage, advertising, or myriad other expenses involved in independently producing a regular show with no financial backing.

 

“I am still working my other job working with adults with disabilities,” says Quasi.  “So I do have some income coming in to take care of essentials. I do miss my show money though.”

 

Monica St. James, another member of Cincinnati drag royalty has been taking on the sequester in a similar way. “No, I haven't been doing ANYTHING virtually,” she explained to Blackout Cincinnati. “ I’m very very old school when it comes to drag. Hands on. Lol. For me I've never really been on the internet. Hopefully this tragic pandemic will be over and we will soon be able to gather again in our favorite places and enjoy a good ol drag show.”

$Stjames77 (Cash App)

 

For Mystique Summers, a contestant on Rupaul’s Drag Race Season 2 and former

Cincinnati performer, she has taken to performing online both for entertainment and for instruction. After appearing on Drag Race, she performed for many years here in Cincinnati. Currently, Mystique performs about one hour outside of Dallas, TX at Club Candy in Wichita Falls.

 

“I do some virtual shows,” Mystique told us over Facebook messenger, “when I feel like it. I make sure I have proper lights so people can see me and a clean living room... lol. The show can be watched for free but if anyone would like a 1-on-1 makeup lesson then that's going to cost them.”

 

Is it going too far, though, to suggest that drag queens could actually help people survive out there? It’s a surreal moment for the Cincinnati’s drag community. Many of them are barely getting by with virtual shows or depending solely on their day jobs—meanwhile a great number of the area’s drag community are without work, watching Netflix from living rooms in apartments or homes they likely cannot afford. 

 

Though they’ve captivated fans and followers around the city, drag performers are struggling and if we don't help, the beloved safe space drag has created may not be there after the pandemic finally fades.

 

If you would like to help, please consider making a cash donation to the queens that have helped make our community better!

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ENTERTAINMENT

 19  FEB K.A. Simpson

 

To some it may not be a huge surprise that books occupy a very special place in my existence and, if I am telling the truth,  there are days when I prefer reading a good story rather than interacting with people. For me, reading isn’t just a hobby, it’s a way to escape reality without really going anywhere. 


Growing up in urban Northern Kentucky, books provided the much needed break from reality needed by many young Black kids questioning their sexuality and helped me to envision characters that looked and felt like me in a world of LGBTQ character-less themes.

 

My world was expanded when I finally found those gems of literary magic that grew to be a source of validation and connection in my burgeoning gay world. They were ponds of knowledge where I could learn more about LGBTQ experiences. They provided characters I could relate to since their experiences were so much like my own.


Throughout the years, I have amassed a large collection of favorites that have shaped my gay and fiction existence. I have compiled a list of my 10 personal favorites which I return to time and time again. I do not argue that these novels represent the absolute best in just Black LGBTQ fiction, and some are outside of the genre all together but I believe they are novels that every gay man can connect with on a deeply kismet level.

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SPORTS

 29  JAN Staff report

 

Last year's Super Bowl commercials gave way to opening up the fact that GAYS ARE WATCHING. Memories of you practicing kissing on a pillow you called Lamont in middle school was roused with that Doritos commercial when Chance the Rapper, joined by the Backstreet Boys, promoted Flamin’ Hot Doritos.

And who could forget Cardi B. skirting out “okurrrrr” at a frequency only my beloved pooch Stella could hear in that Pepsi commercial where her, Lil John and Steve Carell tried to convince people that a Pepsi was more than “ok.”

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There are definitely people out there more inept at deciphering these well targeted ad spots that sold chips and soft drinks but I'm more interested in diving into the onion peel-like layer of suppressed homo-eroticism at the core of the NFL. 

 

Every Sunday in the Fall, as a lover of football myself, I’ve witnessed gays across Cincinnati sit and watch hundreds of uniformed men, cladden in skin tight pants, hugging each other, calling each other, “Baby,” slapping butts, jumping into each other’s arms in celebration and doing that little forehead-touch that football players do that's as close as you can get, while wearing a football helmet, to kissing. 

 

Considering that there are thousands of men in the NFL at any one time, it's a little hard to believe that they're ALL straight. Just recently, Ryan O’Callaghan, an openly gay former NFL player, said  “Every NFL team has at least one gay or bisexual player, but they fear backlash for coming out including losing potential sponsorships or even their place on the roster.”

 

That's because the culture of pro football is decidedly homophobic. 

 

Which is precisely what makes it so fascinating that football players spend so much time doing the things that straight men work so hard to avoid...and why we gays like to watch.

Just recently, this issue bubbled back to the surface with the release of Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez released on Netflix. Hernandez, a star tight end (no pun intended) for the New England Patriots, was convicted in April 2005 for shooting and killing his friend, Odin Lloyd, seemingly without motive. After watching the piece, it alluded to the fact that Lloyd—a semipro football player who was dating Hernandez’s fiance’s sister at the time—had information the football star did not want out: that he was bisexual.

 

The show also highlighted a relationship Hernandez had with a former high school classmate. And that classmate, who was Hernandez's alleged lover, testified in front of a grand jury during the Lloyd murder trial.

 

Whatever the case, this Netflix program and the targeted commercials mentioned at the top shows progress, however slight, towards a more general progress towards the eventual acceptance of gays in professional football.

Progress can also be found in college football players, the next generation of the NFL, coming out at higher rates. The inner stalker in us found this list of those 2019 college footballers who have spilled their guts on the subject of their sexual orientation: 

  • Scott Frantz, Kansas State offensive lineman (FBS), senior. 

  • Jacob Van Ittersum, offensive lineman at Northwood University Michigan (Division II), senior. 

  • Wyatt Pertuset, Capital University (Ohio, Division III) wide receiver and punter, senior. 

  • Cy Hicks, College of Idaho (NAIA) offensive lineman, sophomore. 

  • Avery Saffold, Amherst College in Massachusetts (Division III) defensive back, senior. 

  • Christian Zeitvogel, Kalamazoo College (Michigan Division III) offensive lineman, sophomore. 

  • Jack Storrs, Pomona-Pitzer linebacker, senior. 

  • My-King Johnson, enrolled at New Mexico Military Institute, a junior college, after transferring from the University of Arizona. 

 

We actually reached out to My-King and this is what he told Blackout Cincinnati about playing football while gay. 

“I came out when I was in middle school. And for it being hard the answer is complicated. It’s hard because I feel different from all the guys however, just being a student athlete is extremely hard on its own. I tend to focus on balancing that more. I came out really early so I don’t focus on being gay as a negative anymore.”

So if you are like us, a fan of the NFL, for some of the non-traditional reasons mentioned at the top of this article, here are a few places around town showing the big game: 

Bar 32, 701 Bakewell St, Covington: - Super Bowl on ALL 8 TV'S with Sound, Bucket Specials and a Taco Bar..

Bar 901 at The Brittany, 901 Race St: Beer-and-a-Shot special 4pm to close. A mainline domestic (Bud, Bud Light or Miller Lite) with a shot of well liquor or Fireball for $7. Pizzas at game time. Also that special will go from open (4 pm) to close (midnight). Normal Happy Hour will be in effect from 4pm to 8pm.

Below Zero Lounge, 1120 Walnut St: Game day food and beer specials

The Birdcage Bar & Lounge, 927 Race St: Buckets of Beer, Free Hot Dogs & Wings (while supplies last). Mark and Marcus behind the bar!!!

Main Event, 835 Main St: Showing game. Regular drink specials.

Rosie's Tavern, 835 Main St, Covington: Will have food and the TV's will be on with sound. Happy hour prices and drink specials! Hysterical Super Bowl commercial commentary FREE OF CHARGE!

Tillie's Lounge, 4042 Hamilton Ave: Knockout Halftime Show with JLo & Shakira.. and yes.. the Super Bowl Game. Doors open at 4pm with the kickoff at 6:30pm. Enjoy Happy Hour Specials All Night Long and Game Day Food.

 
ENTERTAINMENT

 08  JAN Staff report

 

When Tim’m West told a packed crowd at "Let's End the Stigma: Have the Conversation" hosted by University of Cincinnati’s Infectious Diseases Division for National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day at Revel OTR Urban Winery in February of 2019 that, until recently, Cincinnati was the first city he lived in where he didn’t have a support system as a gay Black man, you may think that he was one of those who returned to the Queen City just to complain about living here.

But I then watched as he panned the audience and said, “So I had to create one myself.”

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Hearing about the way that West has carved out a niche promoting education while facilitating the spread of the Black gay urbanity got me to thinking.

In the US, roughly 39% of adults who identify as being a member of the LGBTQ community are a person of color, making it one of the most diverse communities in America. West has long envisioned the need to respond and adapt to this new generation in the U.S. that is more diverse than any previous generation in terms of race, sexual orientation, and gender identity. But despite the status of LGBTQ people of color, we still face some big challenges. 

How can gay persons of color be such a fast-growing group yet unable to generate the same type of change as others? Could it be that we have the wrong focus as we build our careers?

 

Here's where West comes in. With his life example, there’s no better way to share the three key teachings from this cultural powerhouse that stand the test of time. These teachings are what set West apart, and are what I believe, the things that can forge the difference between people of color who are successful -- and those who aren’t.

 

1. Promote the many shades of “you”

Many people feel as though making more money in a job or profession that they don’t love will make life better. That’s the American Dream right? Make a bunch of money and spend it just as fast as you make it. What most people with money don’t tell you is that their empires don’t bring them happiness. It is their philanthropy, family or artistic success that brings meaning to their lives. Not staying in just one lane, West is an educator and multi-discipline performance artist, author, hip hop recording artist, poet, activist, and youth advocate.

 

2. Don’t be scared to be true

You’ll never see West do something that doesn't align with his values, and he never compromises on the quality of his work. Yet so many community enthusiasts overlook being clear about who they are and what they stand for as the first step in creating a movement. Why? Usually they are so focused on keeping up with the status quo that they don’t stop long enough to get clarity and put a strategy in place that will allow their movement to be successful.

 

And, yes, a movement is more than a mission statement. A movement is the heartbeat, the conscious, the voice of a larger community. According to Lumen Learning, an online learning platform, a social movement is a “purposeful, organized group that strives to work toward a common social goal.” Over the past few years, West has helped to organize many safe spaces for gay men of color to assemble, from his efforts to establish Cincinnati Black Pride, to him being instrumental to starting the Black Bear Brotherhood.

 

3. Power is honesty and transparency

One of the most powerful things about West is his ability to be transparent. He has allowed us an intimate look at his inner life and struggles. As one example, we had a front row seat for years to his battle with HIV and depression. Instead of cowering behind his momentary low points, West took on these struggles head on. He was willing to be transparent about challenges in his life, and we had the privilege of watching him create a platform for it to help others who may be struggling through the same complex issues.

 

Sitting on stage at Revel that night, West was channeling his past self. His Cincinnati inner-child. On that stage, along with his peers, West expressed the hope that the world could be a space of inclusion and not division. Where people never have to wake up and think about being “other.” Many people can learn from his experience. 

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